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2666 [Paperback]

Roberto Bolano
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Nov. 11 2008
Composed in the last years of Roberto Bolaño’s life, 2666 was greeted across Europe and Latin America as his highest achievement, surpassing even his previous work in its strangeness, beauty, and scope. Its throng of unforgettable characters includes academics and convicts, an American sportswriter, an elusive German novelist, and a teenage student and her widowed, mentally unstable father. Their lives intersect in the urban sprawl of SantaTeresa—a fictional Juárez—on the U.S.-Mexico border, where hundreds of young factory workers, in the novel as in life, have disappeared.

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From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Last year's The Savage Detectives by the late Chilean-Mexican novelist Bolaño (1953–2003) garnered extraordinary sales and critical plaudits for a complex novel in translation, and quickly became the object of a literary cult. This brilliant behemoth is grander in scope, ambition and sheer page count, and translator Wimmer has again done a masterful job. The novel is divided into five parts (Bolaño originally imagined it being published as five books) and begins with the adventures and love affairs of a small group of scholars dedicated to the work of Benno von Archimboldi, a reclusive German novelist. They trace the writer to the Mexican border town of Santa Teresa (read: Juarez), but there the trail runs dry, and it isn't until the final section that readers learn about Benno and why he went to Santa Teresa. The heart of the novel comes in the three middle parts: in The Part About Amalfitano, a professor from Spain moves to Santa Teresa with his beautiful daughter, Rosa, and begins to hear voices. The Part About Fate, the novel's weakest section, concerns Quincy Fate Williams, a black American reporter who is sent to Santa Teresa to cover a prizefight and ends up rescuing Rosa from her gun-toting ex-boyfriend. The Part About the Crimes, the longest and most haunting section, operates on a number of levels: it is a tormented catalogue of women murdered and raped in Santa Teresa; a panorama of the power system that is either covering up for the real criminals with its implausible story that the crimes were all connected to a German national, or too incompetent to find them (or maybe both); and it is a collection of the stories of journalists, cops, murderers, vengeful husbands, prisoners and tourists, among others, presided over by an old woman seer. It is safe to predict that no novel this year will have as powerful an effect on the reader as this one. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


“Bolaño’s masterwork . . . An often shockingly raunchy and violent tour de force (though the phrase seems hardly adequate to describe the novel’s narrative velocity, polyphonic range, inventiveness, and bravery) based in part on the still unsolved murders of hundreds of women in Ciudad Juárez, in the Sonora desert near the Texas border.” —FRANCISCO GOLDMAN, The New York Review of Books
“Not just the great Spanish-language novel of [this] decade, but one of the cornerstones that define an entire literature.” —J. A. MASOLIVER RÓDENAS, La Vanguardia
“One of those strange, exquisite, and astonishing experiences that literature offers us only once in a very long time . . . to see . . . a writer in full pursuit of the Total Novel, one that not only completes his life’s work but redefines it and raises it to new dizzying heights.” —RODRIGO FRESÁN, El País

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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Set of Diamonds in the Rough Jan. 9 2009
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
I have a hard time imagining that any new novel I read this year will fill me as completely as 2666 did. I encourage you to read the book with interest, but without the expectation of perfection.

In 2666, the monumental novel that has brought so much joy to readers since the 18th and 19th centuries returns in the twenty-first century. Roberto Bolano displays enough breadth of vision to give Dickens something to think about. It's hard to describe this book without giving away details that might spoil your pleasure, but it's clear that everything and everybody are connected. That's also part of the attraction . . . because you want to know what all the connections are.

Bolano's 2666 provides a perspective that we don't get often enough in monumental novels, that of a novelist. In Part 1 "The Part about the Critics" we meet four academics who build careers (and indeed personal lives) around a little-appreciated German novelist, Benno von Archimboldi whom they have never met. The author's name alone will give you a clue that not all is as it seems. This story is by turns wicked satire, patronizing descriptions, tendentious morality tale, and hilariously warped view of the academic part of the literary establishment and its goings on. Only the obvious escapes them in their desire for privacy, comfort, career, and avoidance of loss. Before this part ends though, you'll feel like a strong magnet is pulling you and the characters towards an important appointment, one that will initially resist your understanding.

In Part 2 "The Part about Amalfitano" you will get to know Amalfitano who lives with his daughter Rosa in Santa Teresa, Mexico, a border town south of Tucson where sweat shop factories draw willing young workers from all over Mexico.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indifference to Evil Sept. 4 2009
By Ian Gordon Malcomson HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Bolano, in this major literary work, offers us some incredible insights into the many social, political and metaphysical faces of evil. By the time he is finished with us, we will begin to see the inglorious past, present and future of man's inability to control his violent urges. Structurally, the novel breaks down into a number of smaller chapters that look at how various characters attempt to understand and come to grips with the ugliness of human nature around them. While Bolano seemingly makes it easy for the reader to focus on the eye of the storm - a little flyblown Mexican bordertown near Nogales - where despicable things are happening in spades, he complicates life by introducing a number of different tangents on how violence apparently affects people differently. It is this rich melange of personal views and reactions that makes any attempt to metaphysically appreciate and possibly control our homicidal urges next to impossible. We are who we are because we essentially live to ourselves rather than on behalf of others. The first part of the story covers the actions of some European intellectuals who go in search of a reclusive German author and philosopher who has made it is his life's ambition to understand the human drive to kill. This mission fails because the members of the group get entangled in each other's personal needs to the point of losing track of their original goal: seeking knowledge. Other outsiders, such as a naive journalist in search of the big fight, actually make it to the Ground Zero of this Hell in the little Mexican town of Santa Teresa only to discover that there is something beyond their wildest imaginations: a langorus indifference to violence in its many awful manifestations. Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding achievement July 1 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
2666 is truly one of the great books of the last century. Sprawling and deceiving, it shows bolano's deft touch and ability to stretch and compress time while somehow keeping the thinnest of threads intact. An unforgettable experience.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Book was faulty May 20 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book came very quickly in the mail but the top half of the middle pages were missing and were also uncut so I couldn't read it and had to return it. It was clear something was wrong with the book before even opening it. I think this probably should have been checked before it was mailed.
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